Friday, September 23, 2016


We are 4 weeks into the school year and I still have yet to find an afternoon rhythm that works for us all. I keep feeling like it just shouldn't be this difficult in the FIRST grade and yet, it's a definite struggle. And in the past 10 days we've added in nightly speech therapy practice to the mix so now Lucy, who is already having much more attention from me to help her read and work through the homework, now has even more homework than Kate.

It takes me an hour to get them both through their homework each afternoon. An hour. I'm going to let this sink in...an HOUR of homework in the FIRST grade.

Technically, if you look at the list, it shouldn't take an hour. Generally they have a page (front and back) of math, a page of writing Chinese characters and then a lesson online in Chinese that they need to listen to and learn and sometimes a 4-5 minute cartoon in Chinese. Then they are supposed to read to me for 5 minutes. Then Lucy has a page (with 3 columns of words) that she must pronounce correctly for speech therapy. And don't forget piano and flute practice.

Piano homework from Lisa on Vimeo.
Kate is pretty self-sufficient and doesn't generally need my help with anything. I don't even have her read to me as she will go off and read for 30 minutes while I'm still working through homework with Lucy. To have her not feel left out though, I then check Kate's reading by asking her questions about what she has read to check for comprehension and later I quiz her on the Chinese characters she needs to know for her Mandarin quiz.

Chinese vocabulary lesson with Kate from Lisa on Vimeo.
The other reason it takes an hour....if you've ever met 6 year olds after a long day of school, you know that they can move at a glacial pace. I've seen videos of sloths that move faster. Just getting set up to play flute can take Kate 20 minutes. Getting a child who doesn't want to read or write is like trying to stand up a cooked noodle.

Chinese homework with Lucy from Lisa on Vimeo.
That last video had some serious editing--it went on for another 15 minutes before we finally finished the one page of characters.

Add in the ever-shortening amount of sunlight we are getting now that Fall is officially here....I am so not ready for winter!

To that end, I called a halt to homework today. As soon as the girls got home, I loaded them up with a homemade muffin and some water and we set off to kayak around the lake. It is much cooler here now so we donned sweatshirts over our tshirts and shorts but we had a great time nonetheless. We were all much happier to be out of the house and back on the lake. We kayaked for just over an hour, spent a long time watching a blue heron fishing for supper and then walked home just as the sun was sinking behind the trees.

It was a welcome reprieve from our normal routine and they were so much more delightful at supper and bedtime than usual. Play is good. I think I will be replacing some of the work with play from now on.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I commend you for taking the homework break today. We are not allowed to give that much homework at my school as my principal firmly believes in family time and the value of play. I wonder why we as a society pushing our kids so much? I can remember spending hours outside playing as a child, often with little direct supervision but that ages me! I wish I could have joined you on the lake. It sounds wonderful! I encourage you to take a break at least once or twice a week. The girls will appreciate it and you will all be much happier for it. My friend's kids in French Immersion have LOTS of homework, so I wonder if it isn't a language thing. Hang in there.


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